On this edition of THE INTERVUE, All-American: Homecoming has audiences everywhere tuning in on the CW and our next guest is one of the reasons why we should! Thanks to their audition of their character Nathaniel, he impressed creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll and changed the dynamic so great that this original small part now is featured in ten of the thirteen episodes of this freshman drama.
And after talking with him for twenty minutes, I was taken in by their amazing energy and can truly see that Rhoyle Ivy King is a force to be recognized through and through!
Well, it’s great to great to be talking with you. And my first question is this, I want you to start by telling us about your audition. I heard you killed it, you slated you knock them dead. So you’ve got to give us a scoop on audition.
So you know, I when I first read the scene, I was like, “Okay, this is she is backstage, she’s trying to get people ready. And of course, just like any live performance, something goes wrong at last minute.” And I said, “Oh, by the way, I understand that feeling.” And then so I incorporated just my understanding of the scene itself. Then reading her break down, I was like, “Okay, fly is a part of who she is, got it!” With that, and she does hair and makeup. I was so glad that I got to connect my love for hair makeup fashion into a role. I was so blessed that I got to play a character that truly understood also, the stuff that goes on backstage and as a part of that.
So, coming to understand the scene that I was auditioning for, is starting to establish the character. And then I it also led to having some beautiful conversations with GLAAD about, what is going to be like playing a character outside of my gender. Was that okay? What some of the things that I needed to know? One of the one things they let me know, that gave me so much confidence, they were like, the intersectionality, between you in this character is so heavy and it is so connected, you understand exactly her gender non-conforming way of expression.
I told them, I said, you know, using public bathrooms is terrifying. It’s terrifying walking into for myself a men’s bathroom. And people are like, “Ummmm”. I’m got to understand some of some of the ways that we intersect it is how we present ourselves to the world. Then there was allowing that layer to truly come in. And it required a level of truth and vulnerability that I had yet to really release into an audition before.
You done it so well that I heard that your character only had a few lines but when you came in, it totally blew them away. I’m so impressed by that. How did you work with the creator Nkechi Okoro Carroll and the writers to fully develop and transform Nathaniel into the character we see every week on CW?
You know, it was just a lot of conversations about what it is to have an authentic character be portrayed on this screen. You know, one of the beautiful things is like when me and Nke talked about episode three, and we got to work through some of those moments, and really talk about some of those experiences to put them into the script and to put them into her experience. And also give a little hints to where she’s going from here. I think one of the most beautiful things that happened is, of course, as a queer person in this world, I’m going to admit that I was hesitant in some aspects, because of my own experience. I was like, “Oh my, if now we’re taking some of the experiences that I have had in this world, and we’re putting it on this gigantic platform.” Yeah, it was a little terrifying.
One of the things that Nke said immediately was, “we’re not going to write this character and fear. We’re not going to write this character with limitations. We’re not going to hinder her experience. We’re going to write the character that the people need to receive, and the world needs to go not carrying the fear of where the world has been.” And that was one of the beautiful conversations that we had to go “We’re gonna put some truth in this character, but we’re also going to push it forward.”.
Well, it definitely shows in the brilliant writing and how you brought the character to life. Now I’m going to skip to a question that needs to be ask right now, because as we know, just recently, that our great Arianna DuBose won Best Supporting Actress is becoming the first LGBTQ queer woman to win an Oscar. I want to hear from your point of view, what strides are needed to continue to be raised in terms of representation of the non-binary, LGBTQ queer community we see on screen, especially with that epic win that historic win just yesterday.
Yes, we have to make sure that we are representing the entirety of the world. You know, I’ve heard at the beginning of my career that the film and television industry especially, are like a gigantic mirror that people get to look up and see themselves reflected in, but who’s being reflected, if not all the stories, and all different kinds of people are being portrayed on that gigantic mirror.
And I truly feel like it comes down to opening the gate to allow other stories to be told, and to allow other people to get behind the table. It’s not only about being in front of the camera, but it’s also about behind the camera, who’s casting, who’s writing… some of the people that are up in those studios. We need more people that are coming from different backgrounds with different stories to be present in there to make sure that not only are we hiring people of different backgrounds, sizes, experiences, genders, sexualities, but we’re also making sure that it’s being authentic and truthful.
Absolutely right. For All-American: Homecoming is set against the backdrop of an HBCU. I know that your mom is alumni of an HBCU, Prairie View A&M. I myself am an HBCU alum. Do you feel with homecoming, that you got a taste of true HBCU experience?
Oh, definitely. It’s all around us, whether it’s in the cast, or it’s in the writers room, there are so many people that I get to ask. Even the conversations that I have with my mom about what it’s like. I can’t remember exactly where she went to school first but to continue on with med school. She transferred to an HBCU, she says was completely different. She was pushed and challenged in a way that she was not challenged at the other school.
So to get to experience some of that within these characters, and to watch these characters go through the same thing, and the writers explained to us, “No baby, at an HBCU, this is how it goes. Ellie, she lets us know all the time and Jeffrey, they make sure that the authenticity of what it’s like being in an HBCU is present.
And it allows me as an artist truly to pull from the people around me into the energy that they’re putting into this project to understand one of the biggest aspects of getting to pull the excellence out of the things around you and the people around you to get to ask questions by people that understand your experience and understand where your life is headed next. We established from the jump that we’re doing this for the culture.
You’re right about that. Now, one of the things I love about your character is the friendship with Nathaniel, Simone and Keisha. I want you to talk to us about not only we working with the actors, but also what’s your favorite part of that dynamic trio?
Oh goodness, on set, we call ourselves Destiny’s Child. Honestly, I think some of my favorite parts is actually been the development of our actual friendship. All of the moments that we have spent sitting out at the table during lunch and talking and laughing and getting to pull that energy right back on set. That’s really some of the most beautiful work because it’s authentic and truthful to who we are. One thing that we love seeing is those moments of improv, coming back on the screen and making the final cut. We’re like, “Oh, that wasn’t scripted and they kept it”, because those are the moments that truly establish us.
I think for the writers, the challenge of writing characters that you haven’t seen too long, it’s so much easier when you get into a season two, season three, season four, you’ve been working with these people for a while. So, to allow ourselves in our improv in our moments, to start to trickle its way into the work and as episodes go on, and we get some move forward, you start to see some of the very things in the way that we acted, you know, behind the scenes or in in cast holding starts to actually play out on the screen. It’s wonderful.
Now I read a quote from one of your fellow cast mates, they said, “It is fantastic to watch because Rhoyle has this monumental task of breaking down gender stereotypes within the black community, not only are they doing it with grace, but this cast is doing it in a way that’s supportive and present”. I want to know from you, what does that mean to you?
For me, it’s such a beautiful and moving thing to hear that perspective because that that has always been my goal. I said from the jump, that, I really want the thing to touch people that are in proximity to a non-binary person that don’t have anyone like that in their in their close circles but to look at her and go, “You know what, regardless, I would want a friend like that.” I think that’s the thing, especially when you’re considering that we are on a show, that is initially based with a sports audience, that’s one of the biggest pulling aspects to get to bring this kind of representation.
And, to break down those gender norms to really start to blend in the strength that is femininity and also the strength that is masculinity together. The two combined are so powerful, and can be so moving. And to be that balanced human being that she is so nice and so refreshing to play. It truly is an honor and to also have the cast and the crew and the writers and everyone all the way up to Greg Berlanti being so supportive, and making sure that we are doing the work to sell this to tell this story truthfully. It’s everything that we talk about, we want the industry to do. It’s happening on this project.
And it definitely shows not only in the original series, but with the sequel, and it’s making great strides, especially within all communities involved. Were you a fan of All-American before taking on the role? Did you get to meet any of the cast members from the original series?
I’m so glad you asked me that. “All-American” was actually the show that convinced me there was work in L.A. because I remember in New York, I was like, “What project is there?” And I remember watching All- American on Netflix and was an instant fan, binged it all, was obsessed with the cast. I still remember watching that show going “This is the most beautiful cast I have ever seen.” So was already a fan of the show. I will never forget, like almost hyperventilating, when I had an audition for the spin-off. And that first table read, they could not see it but my hands underneath me was just like this, when Michael Evans Behling came on the screen. And Daniel Ezra and Jeffrey, I’m just sitting there like, “Oh my God!” but I will never forget saying, my first line and I look up, and Samantha Logan is just smiling. And I’m just like, “Oh my goodness, it was it was everything to me.” Yes, I was a huge super fan of the show.
I’m glad now that you completed Season One of even though we haven’t seen all of season one as of right now. What do you hope Nathaniel goes through or evolve to when it comes to its sophomore season?
Oh, you know what I’m truly excited to see her to continue developing her path and elaborate a little more on that I talked about from the very beginning to Nke “How beautiful it is to finally see someone start to navigate and trailblaze a path for themselves in a world creative for two genders and how important that is to see” and I am so curious to see how she continues to do that. As we learned in episode three that Bringston doesn’t have any gender-neutral bathrooms. So, understanding how she continues to create a space for herself in this university and also to, as she said in episode three, “Prepare herself for the world and prepare herself for the battles that she’s going to have to face.” I am so curious to see how that story continues to unfold.
I definitely agree with you, especially since we have a non-binary character in Star Trek: Discovery and we have one on Batwoman on the CW. It really feels that you three are the forerunners of non-binary characters to come in this industry. I’m so glad that you guys are paving the way.
Oh, thank you so much. And that truly alone is an honor to even be in a conversation with those two other artists is just so beautiful.
Well, spring just started about a week ago, and people are finally getting out and about what are you looking forward to asides from relaxing, taking a break enjoying the weather?
Oh, I am you’re gonna hear the Capricorn and me really come out. I am a workaholic. I love to work. I’m excited to continue developing myself as an artist and a creative and to continue to do more projects. And then who knows wait around and see if we get to season two, which we’re all hoping for?
Well, you became a fashion icon by working with Beyoncé collection Ivy Park. I want you to tell us about that experience? And how do you bring your fashion sense into the fashion collection?
You know, I have to first of all work with Ivy Park was such in an amazing opportunity. I was kind of brought in a little bit more on the lower aspect of more of influencer base. So just a connection and getting to be creative and put my own spin on the pieces that I was saying was truly amazing. Especially when it comes to me, I am so big on brands that are gender neutral, and have those options. And to know that someone that I have looked up to, since as far as I can remember, has also made it a part of her mission to make sure that all people can buy her clothing is beautiful.
I think for me, when it comes to my take on fashion and incorporating it into my art, I truly feel like fashion is one of those outward expressions to express yourself to people and for people to get a glimpse of you. For me, a lot of people are always like, “No, you’re not” but I am so shy. I’m so introverted as a person. So, fashion and hair especially, were always an outlet for me to be a little bit more outwards and how I wanted to express myself because truly, if you meet me, I’m a little bit more. It was always something that is like, “I’ll let that make all of this statement. He got nice hair by the way. I love your hair, and stuff”.
I can relate to being shy because I was a shy person growing up and it took watching the news and getting into this industry and becoming an entertaining reporter to shine for me. I’m glad we both found our outlets to conquer our shyness.
Yes, you know, it’s so important to find that balance because I remember I would always sit in a corner do little things like that. And it would be I love your outfit. I love your hair.
One last question. What do you want to say to the young person who’s reading this listening this that they are timid, they are afraid but they see you and they seen your character, they see how you grow from the ground up and say that you can do this?
You know, I would want to say to them if they are feeling something. Something that’s pulling on them and that is calling them to become a greater being a greater person to move on their journey but they’re intimidated by it. To go, that’s your mountain and I’m they are watching this show. They’re watching each other and every character tackled their mountain. And so as they go into their lives, and they’re on their way to tackle theirs, they can see that they’re not alone. They can find some inspiration to go. This is a part of that journey. And in order to get to the other side, just like all the characters in this show, I’m going to have to get over this mountain to and I hope they’re inspired by it.
All American: Homecoming Season 1 airs at 9/8c on Mondays on The CW.
If you want to follow Rhoyle on social media, check out the Instagram HERE!